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Andrei Kulaga

Foreman at Continuous Casting Unit, NLMK Kaluga

“I’ve been in the steelmaking industry for 32 years. I have worked at mills in Russia, Belarus and Jordan. I studied ways to improve production efficiency at a plant in Germany.

“I was born in Magnitogorsk. My father worked at the steel mill. My grandfather was a blacksmith. It’s great to inherit a profession, but you have to study hard to become a steelworker. We use the most advanced equipment, so you need to have a good understanding of chemistry and technology.

“When I was a teenager, my father often talked to me about his job; I watched old movies about steelworkers like Spring on Zarechnaya Street. Do you remember it? I liked all this very much, so I entered a technical college.

“Steelmaking is not only working with your hands: you need to have an understanding of what you are doing. We work with high temperatures and huge moving buckets. Sometimes you need to think fast and react quickly. Being supportive is essential: casting operators, melters and engineers – they all work together in a team where reliability and kindness are highly valued.

“I enjoy what I do and put my heart into my work: when I fix a stove, or replace the flexible pipe in cooling – I feel that I have contributed to the making of the end product. We cast steel which is then used at the mill to make rebar or angle bar to eventually build a house. Each of us contributes a little. Also the steelmaking process is full of life. Seemingly hard and hot, steelmaking speaks to your soul: burning metal is an extraordinarily beautiful thing.”